Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor - English Sub

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Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor 

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Synopsis
Kaiji Itou is a good-for-nothing loiterer who spends his days drinking beer and stealing hubcaps—that is, until he ends up being tricked by his former co-worker. Unable to suddenly repay his friend's huge debt all by himself, Kaiji is offered a shady deal to participate in an illegal underground gamble on a cruise ship. This turns out to be nothing more than the beginning of his new life of hell—thrown headlong into a life-threatening roller coaster of mind games, cheating, and deceit.

Based on the first entry of the famous gambling manga series by Nobuyuki Fukumoto, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor follows our unlucky protagonist as he is forced to fight not only other people, but also the mysteries of their psyches. Kaiji finds out the hard way that the worst sides of human nature surface when people's backs are against the wall, and that the most fearsome dangers of all are greed, paranoia, and the human survival instinct itself.


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Information
Type: TV
Episodes: 26
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 3, 2007, to Apr 2, 2008
Premiered: Fall 2007
Broadcast: Wednesdays at 00:59 (JST)
Producers: VAP, Nippon Television Network
Licensors: None found, add some
Studios: Madhouse
Source: Manga
Genres: Game, Psychological, Thriller, Seinen
Duration: 23 min. per ep.
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)


Reviews: [01] by Torisunanohokori [MAL]




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This review was originally written after the first arc and has since been revised to cover my opinions of the entire show, with minimal spoilers.

Story: Itoh Kaiji, a bum with 3 million yen worth of debt gets into a gambling cruise to pay off his debts. The game played on the cruise is Gentei Janken (Restricted Rock-Paper-Scissors), where the players get four cards of each type and battle it out. What's the catch? Several things; each card can only be used once, cards can be bought off of other players, con men abound, and losing forces one into the vaguely established but horrible other room. Also, one must not only break even in the actual matches but also earn enough through the buying and selling of stars (3 of which equate a trip off the ship) to pay off their debts. A simple premise which gets expounded on to a cleverly intense degree. That, mind you, is the first arc. The later arcs follow up with themes on society, and it gets philosophical in a gritty sort of way. But, unfortunately, the ending is not anything of the sort, devoid of climax. The last 4 episode arc feels a bit tacked on and leaves season 2 wide open.

Art: I looked at the promo picture, and I thought one thing: Elves. These noses are big, and the faces look pretty weird at first. However, once one gets past the first five minutes, it really becomes apparent just how expressive these faces can be, as the characters go through one emotional crisis after another.

Sound: Nice intro, nice ending. Where the sound really shines, though, is the intense scenes. It's well integrated into the rest of the show's experience - so much so that I didn't notice it except after watching a second or third time. However, once I did look into the more dramatic half of the soundtrack, I found it a fairly nice score.

However, the soundtrack isn't the best part of this show's auditory arsenal either. That honor goes to the best voice acting I've ever heard. It may sound silly, but I have never heard anyone cry as effectively as Yanaka Hiroshi's character. Ever. The voice acting really captures the gritty, dreamless atmosphere which the show exudes. Also, an extremely dramatic narration often helps the story along and helps the viewer make sense of sometimes subtle mind games.

Character: Sheeit- there's just too much to say. Men (absolutely no women in this show) betting their lives can make for pretty deep plots, and this is perhaps one of the very best. Kaiji himself is a normally hopeless person whose survival instincts lead him to fight off the system intended to break him down, and he takes himself down a number of pegs to help people who have nothing to give him (and occasionally stab him in the back). The rest of the cast of characters is a bit less scrupulous, and Kaiji suffers three major betrayals by con men and friends alike in the first nine episodes. In the antecedent arcs 2-4, shit hits the fan for our hero, though he is never betrayed after arc 1. Plenty of manly tears make the whole process very entertaining.

A major part of Kaiji that I feel I should mention is its haves vs. have-nots dynamic. Rich "haves" are constantly responsible for the suffering of impoverished "have-nots", and situation which naturally causes tearful frustration for the have-nots. At times the narrator's observations of both sides sound like Hobbesian logic.

Enjoyment: A couple of major highlights: fistfights, naked wrestling behind a one-way mirror, and a fat guy being kicked in the corpulence. The presentation is terrific, dramatic, and bold. Just be aware that, when the chips are down and everything is at stake, there's a very real possibility that Kaiji will lose...

Overall: Kaiji=Pwn+Max Drama-A Decent Ending. If you don't want to be disappointed, stop watching at episode 22 and wait for season 2 before watching episodes 23-26. There's no reason to skip the first 22, though. If you have any free time, what are you doing still reading this review? Watch it now!




Reviews: [02] by basilevs27 [MAL]




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---The review contains spoilers---


3/10. Explanation:

It starts off strange to say the least. A young man is deep in debt and is being given a chance to repay it by boarding a cruise ship to do the 'gambling' (?). At this point, I was already a bit wary, because why would a loan company give an opportunity to repay the debt and get rich on top of that to somebody who owns them money? Surely that's not a profitable thing to do. Why not collect the money from them or make them repay somehow, idk. On the ship though, this series becomes amazing, and I mean top-tier material, the plot is well thought out, the mechanics of exploiting the faults of the restricted rock-paper-scissors are very well done, there's betrayal involved, competition is dynamic with worthy opponents, kaiji's brain is being turned inside out from all the stimulation and he really becomes a much much better gambler after that, who is able to think outside the box and quickly adapt to various difficulties he faces on later in the series.

However, after that this anime completely destroys itself. The so-called 'gambling' is no longer gambling but rather a selection of sadistic games for the pleasure of the wealthy. By the way, I hate this trope, the rich that make poor risk their lives to do crazy stupid things for money, which involves gore and death that supposedly gives them great pleasure somehow. This is completely unnatural, this goes against the human common sense of what is pleasurable and what is merely disgusting, and even though such twisted people might indeed exist, there would be nothing of such scale of cruelty that is portrayed in the show.

The biggest issue I have with the show is not the fact that the 2nd half of it is pure garbage from the logical point of view, or that the 'gambling' games are unoriginal and not intellectual in any way, but rather the pacing. It's so fucking slow it's unreal, the 'card-game' arc with Tonegawa lasts forever for no apparent reason, the narrator repeats everything at least THREE times that is obvious to absolutely anybody watching who has at least 1/4 of the mean IQ value. The series was dragged out for so long that I genuinely started to lose the feeling of tension and suspense that you develop when engaged with the series. About 5 episodes before completion I was so annoyed that I wanted to drop the show despite being so close to the finish line.

Another thing that annoyed me was how the outside people were brought into the plot. There were a bunch of crippled men (after the disgusting sadistic 'gambling' competition) who were cheering Kaiji on and helping him morally and providing first-aid. WHY????????????? All those delinquents hated each other's guts, treated each other like trash during the 'cruise ship' arc, and then they suddenly developed friendly feelings for kaiji when he won the 20million from Tonegawa. Were they just after the money? Perhaps, but then they had plenty of opportunities to steal the money whilst kaiji was busy, but they didn't. But even if they weren't after the money why was kaiji so willing to trust them after being betrayed so many times in the first part of the series?

The show is simply put illogical, everybody acts irrationally, completely against what real-life humans would do in most of the situations. I can't stress that enough. This is a show about gambling, after all, psychological interactions needed to be thought out properly, but instead, we get this. It rendered the show completely useless.







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